Alexander the Great (?), Turquoise, enamel, gold, probably Italian

Alexander the Great (?)

Date:
ring: mid-16th century; cameo: early Hellenistic 4th century B.C.
Culture:
probably Italian
Medium:
Turquoise, enamel, gold
Dimensions:
Overall (ring setting): 1 x 1 1/16 in. (2.6 x 2.7 cm);
Visible cameo (confirmed): 11 x 9.6 mm
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1910
Accession Number:
10.110.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 536
This vibrant carving has previously been described as made of glass and as a product of the French Renaissance, but it is in turquoise, a rarity in cameos of any period. That it is reputed to have been in the Este collections may make an Italian origin likelier. It is not to be ruled out even that the stone is Hellenistic, from as early as the fourth century B.C., but the heroic type of Alexander the Great’s profile was adopted by various Hellenistic successors. In any case, the person who caused it to be set surely thought of it as ancient and as representing Alexander. It is probably a fragment whose broken edges the goldsmith has deftly concealed by forming the bezel as a lion skin, a motif that Alexander borrowed from Hercules.
Este ; Kircheriano and Este Collection ; [ Constantini, Rome, Italy , until 1910; sold to Marshall ] ; J. Marshall (1910; to MMA)